Indiana Secretary of State Todd Rokita outlined the proceduresto fill a vacant congressional seat:
1) How long will the seat remain vacant?
Under Indiana Code 3-10-8-1(3), the seat will remain vacantuntil a special election is held. The winner of the election mustthen take the oath of office and be seated by the U.S. House ofRepresentatives.
Unlike the U.S. Senate where vacancies are filled bygubernatorial appointment, there is no appointment to fill avacancy in the U.S. House. Under Article 1, Section 2 of the U.S.Constitution, vacancies in the U.S. House must be filled by specialelection.
2) When will the special election be held?
A resignation must be submitted to the Speaker of the U.S.House of Representatives. Typically, a resignation will indicateits effective date.
After the Governor is notified of the resignation, theGovernor will then issue a writ of election that must specify thedate of the special election (IC 3-10-8-3). There is no deadlinespecified by statute for the Governor's writ to be issued.
However, the combination of deadlines set by state law fornominating candidates and absentee ballot voting makes itmathematically impossible for a special election to occur earlierthan 60 days after a vacancy occurs in the office of U.S.Representative (See, for example, IC 3-13-1-7; 3-13-1-9; 3-13-1-20;3-8-6-13; 3-8-7-15).
3) How will the major parties select candidates for thespecial election to fill the vacant seat in Congress?
Major political parties, i.e. Republicans and Democrats, willselect candidates to be on the special election ballot by caucus.Within 30 days of the vacancy, the state party chairmen must calltheir caucuses, composed of precinct committeemen within thecongressional district, who will nominate and elect their party'scandidate (IC 3-13-1-7(a)(2)).
A person who wants to become a candidate must file adeclaration of candidacy with the chairman of their party's caucus,in this case, state party chairs, and the Secretary of State orIndiana Election Division.
4) What about candidates who are not affiliated with amajor political party?
These candidates could include a Libertarian Party candidate,who would be entitled to be placed on the special election ballotwithout petitioning. The Libertarian Party must give 10 days'notice of its intent to nominate a candidate (IC 3-13-1-20), andfile the certification of its nominee no later than noon, 50 daysbefore the election (IC 3-8-7-15).
These candidates could also include independent candidates orcandidates of other minor party candidates, who gain access to thespecial election ballot by gathering petition signatures.
The total number of signatures needed by petition candidateswould be equal to two percent of the total votes cast for all foursecretary of state candidates in the most recent general election(in November 2006). A petition of nomination must be filed with theIndiana Election Division no later than noon 50 days before thedate of the election (IC 3-8-6-13).
5) Who is responsible for holding the specialelection?
Once candidates are nominated and certified to the IndianaElection Division, each county within the district is responsiblefor holding the special election.
Ballots have to be printed, absentee voting must beavailable, and poll workers have to be recruited and appointed.Voter registration closes 29 days before the special election isheld (IC 3-10-8-9).
6) Who pays for the costs associated with holding a specialelection?
Any costs involved with the special election are paid for bythe county in accordance with normal election procedures (IC3-5-3-1).
7) How long will the individual who is elected during thespecial election serve?
The individual elected in the special election would servethe remainder of the term which will end noon, January 3, 2011(20th Amendment to the US Constitution).
8) What about the November 2010 general election?
This special election for the remainder of the current term(2010-2011) will not affect the election later this year for the2011-2013 term. A candidate nominated at the May 4, 2010 primarymay choose to withdrawal from the General Election ballot by filinga statement to that effect on the prescribed form with the ElectionDivision no later than noon, July 15, 2010.
The resulting candidate vacancy for the General Electionballot will be filled by a caucus of precinct committeemen whoseprecincts are within the congressional district. The party mustfill the vacancy within 30 days after the withdrawal occurs.
Any individual who was defeated in the May 4, 2010 Republicanprimary would be allowed to file as a candidate at both the specialelection and to fill the ballot vacancy for the full two yearterm.
9) When was the last time a special election was held inIndiana?
The last time a special election for Congress was held inIndiana was on March 11, 2008, when U.S. Representative AndreCarson was elected in the 7th Congressional District for the seatvacated by Julia Carson, who passed away earlier in the year.
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